Eli Drinkwitz has previously sparred with former Florida coach Dan Mullen, never been afraid to speak his mind and now ignited perhaps the Southeastern Conference’s, if not college football’s, most ardent fan base with his comments Wednesday directed at the Tennessee Vols’ football program.
Appearing on Jim Rome’s eponymous show, Drinkwitz lambasted the shenanigans on Rocky Top alleged to have occurred under since-disgraced and fired former coach Jeremy Pruitt.
Tennessee last Friday received the NCAA’s formal Notice of Allegations that included charges of 18 Level I violations.
“I thought you were going to introduce my record,” Drinkwitz said by way of greeting Rome, “but with the latest allegations against Tennessee, let’s hold up on what my record is because I expect them to vacate some wins and that’s going to help my record a little, OK?”
While it’s technically possible that the Vols must forfeit one of their three on-field wins in Pruitt’s crash-and-burn 2020 season, Drinkwitz’s Tigers have struggled mightily against Tennessee through his first two years at Missouri.
In a pair of blowout-defeats, the Tigers were outscored 97-36. They gave up 62 points last season at home to the Vols under first-year coach Josh Heupel after allowing 34 the previous year in a 20-point loss to Pruitt’s final UT iteration.
Still, Drinkwitz got his most caustic zingers delivered at Pruitt and his wife, Casey, a former compliance office employee alongside her husband’s now-moribund coaching career.
“I mean, me personally, I’ve got to question my wife’s commitment to winning, you know?,” Drinkwitz joked, bringing his wife Lindsey tangentially into the fray. “I don’t know how much she’s committed if she’s not engaging in some of these things. I didn’t know that was fair play.
“So, you know, it was a little bit surprising to see the in-depth nature of what was going on there. But I am sure glad that Tennessee was taking some ownership of it and we’ll see what the results are. It’s pretty interesting for sure.”
Reminded of Pruitt’s wife’s former compliance-office status, Drinkwitz did acknowledge the prodigious pressure of winning in the SEC.
“I mean it’s, shoot, pressure does crazy things to people,” he said, “and there’s a lot of pressure to win the SEC. So I don’t know, that’s crazy.”
Drinkwitz’s Tigers get their first opportunity at an on-field win against the Vols Nov. 12 when they visit Neyland Stadium. Earlier this month Tennessee ratcheted up the rivalry a notch when it secured the commitment of coveted consensus four-star prospect Chandavian Bradley, a Platte County, Missouri, native who’s widely heralded as one of the top two players in his state.